Once again, the Jamesville-DeWitt stands one win from ending its long wait for a Section III title. And once again, New Hartford stands in the way of that dream coming true.
Defending its top seed in last Wednesday night's Class A semifinal at West Genesee High School in Camillus, the Red Rams needed a late goal from Anthony Epifani to squeak past no. 4 seed East Syracuse-Minoa 1-0.
As neighbors and rivals within the OHSL Freedom division, J-D and ESM were quite familiar with each other. They played twice in the regular season, and both times the Red Rams won, by a 3-0 margin on Sept. 14, then a 1-0 margin on Oct. 19.
The third encounter matched the second, in that both sides battled through a scoreless first half. ESM's defense, led by Ryan Dadey, Nick Capriotti, Josh Stuper and Emir Advakovic, tied up Zander El Hindi, Jimmy Fazio and the rest of J-D's attackers.
At the same time, though, Matt Kopp, Steven Aziz, Dan Canfield and the rest of the Rams' back line proved so effective containing the Spartans that goalie Zach Tanner only hade to make one save.
Well into the second half, it remained 0-0, and J-D wasn't getting all that many chances. But with 10:50 left, Anthony Epifani, who only had one goal all season, took a pass from Noel Williams and fired the ball past ESM goalie Casey Sullivan to give the Rams a lead it would not relinquish.
ESM finished its season with a mark of 11-7, and sees nine seniors, including Dadey and Stupor, depart, though the return of a solid core of players should mean another winning mark in 2011.
So J-D, by beating these Spartans, earned another shot at the other Spartans from New Hartford, who prevailed 2-0 in last year's sectional title game during a run to the state finals. New Hartford beat Carthage 3-1 in the semifinals behind A.J. Wolfanger's goal and two assists.